Making Worlds: Feminist STS and everyday technoscience
Location 127
Date and Start Time 01 September, 2016 at 09:00
Sessions 6


  • Kara Wentworth (University of California San Diego) email
  • Monica Hoffman (University of California San Diego) email

Mail All Convenors

Short Abstract

This track invites papers informed by feminist science studies scholarship on how worlds are made through everyday and more-than-human practices. We welcome both traditional and experimental presentations exploring the processes and uneven consequences of technoscientific world-making.

Long Abstract

From Ruth Cowan's washing machines (1983) to Leigh Star's onions (1990), Chandra Mukerji's gardens (1997) to Anna Tsing's mushrooms (2012), feminist technoscience has analyzed material practices to understand politics and power. Following Haraway's articulation of "worlding" and practices of becoming-with (2007), this track invites papers engaging situated and quotidian practices (de Laet and Mol 2000; Mol 2003) in order to understand how unequal worlds are made through daily and repeating material interaction between humans and non-humans. We welcome both traditional and experimental paper presentations that explore the process and uneven consequences of technoscientific world-making, and begin to imagine other possible "collectives, spaces, and futures."

Potential themes could include: human, non-human, and multi-species entanglements in scientific practice (Barad 2007; Beisel et al 2013; Kelly and Lezaun 2014; Klein 2014); embodied labor, gesture, and interactions (Goodwin 2000; Alač 2014; Vora 2015); the social lives and political stakes of technologies (Cowan 1983; Casper and Clarke 1998; TallBear 2013; Petrick 2015); figured worlds, landscapes, and built environments (Mukerji 2009, 2012; Kelly 2012); materials, materiality, and "little tools of knowledge" (Becker and Clark 2001; Bennett and Joyce 2010; Gitelman 2014).

Panel groupings will aim to bring established and newer scholars together in conversation. "Making Worlds" will be a place for celebration and visioning around feminist STS scholarship and a space to make sense of how feminist STS scholarship in particular has been foundational to this year's EASST/4S focus: "science and technology [is politics] by other means."

SESSIONS: 4/4/4/4/5/4

This track is closed to new paper proposals.


(Mis)matches between sex education and needs of youth

Authors: Marijke Naezer (Radboud University)  email
Els Rommes (Institute for gender studies - Radboud University)  email

Short Abstract

In this paper we interrogate the political practice of online and offline sex education in the Netherlands. Our question is: to which extent do politics in sex education match young people’s needs for information about sexuality?

Long Abstract

Discourses about sex education indicate a notion of sexuality which fits into the 'sex as natural' tradition as described by Seidman (2006a, b). This discourse implies a hierarchical relation in which the adult is regarded as the 'expert' who 'transfers' seemingly 'factual', 'rational' information to the 'unknowing' youngster; a practice not dissimilar to the presentation of medical information to 'lay people'.

In line with the aims of T100, our goal is to interrogate this highly political practice of teaching about sexuality, by highlighting the perspectives and needs of the 'receiving party': young people. Our question is: to which extent do politics in sex education match young people's needs for information about sexuality?

The paper is based on a survey among 679 youngsters, five focus group meetings and about fifty in-depth interviews with young people, and 1,5 year of online and offline participant observation.

We will argue that online and offline educational programs about sexuality do not always match the needs of youth. For example, whereas sex education programs present sexuality as a highly individual practice, young people experience sexuality as a deeply social project, in which peers play a central role.

We will theorize on the extent to which the concept of 'warm expert' (Bakardjieva 2005, Wyatt et al. 2005) fits young people's information needs, analyze the power differences that are implied by the scripts (Akrich 1992, Oudshoorn 1996) of sex education and point out the options that seemingly powerless youth do have, e.g. at the consumption junction (Cowan 1987).

Disciplining the Observer: Implications of Eye Tracking Software on Legal Reasoning

Author: Kelli Moore (New York University)  email

Short Abstract

Eye tracking software measures what differently raced spectators attend to when watching videos of white police interactions with black people with implications for “legal science,” or, jurisprudence on race.

Long Abstract

Eye tracking technology first emerged in the 19th century as a way to study cognitive transformations during the act of reading. The technique has evolved into contemporary applications in employee training, market research, and product development. STS research on eye tracking techniques details their importance to neuromarketing and technology interface design (Schneider and Woolgar, 2012; Schull, 2012). In the wake of high profile verdicts favoring police in murder and misconduct trials, videos of police violence are an important, yet nominally unmarked form of forensic evidence used by the state. In the social sciences eye tracking techniques have implications for legal reasoning on police violence and the courtroom as a space of world-making through gesture and embodied labor (Goodwin, 2000; Alac 2014).

This paper emphasizes the other and means in 'science by other means.' It considers eye-tracking software and the black body in experiments involving the human eye in the time of the state's discovery of new reading protocols for its own surveillance video footage, whether appropriated from recording bystanders, CCTV, or dash camera. At a university social perception laboratory eye tracking software measures what differently raced spectators attend to when watching videos of white police interactions with black people. Paper discusses relationships between social science experiments on perception of racial difference and the "legal science" of race jurisprudence. The mediating role of eye tracking in the lab is emphasized in order to reconsider the value of ANT approaches to legal reasoning about scientific knowledge (Jasinoff, 1995; Mnookin, 1998, Latour, 2009) in the context of critiques of object-oriented ontologies.

Integrating Feminist Science Studies into STEM fields De-Gendering Technoscience

Author: Petra Lucht (Technische Universität Berlin)  email

Short Abstract

Referring to intersectional perspectives of Feminist Science and Technology Studies I suggest how to teach the question „How artifacts do gendered politics?" to bachelor, master and doctoral students in STEM fields in exploratory teaching-research seminars.

Long Abstract

Referring to intersectional perspectives (Crenshaw 1989) of Feminist Science and Technology Studies I suggest how to teach the question "How artifacts do gendered politics?" to bachelor, master and doctoral students in STEM fields in exploratory teaching-research seminars of Feminist Svience and Technology Studies. This approach opens up time and space for reflections and for inventions of alternative ways of defining and transforming a given research problem or task in STEM. The seminars start of with explaining an assigned task in a STEM field in-depth. Over a time span of one semester this tasks is being explored by students in the exploratory teaching-research seminar of Feminist Science and Technology Studies. In addition, an integrated research design, the so-called "Hourglass-Model" (Maxwell 1996), fosters to specify and to integrate both research perspectives form STEM fields as well as from Feminist Science and Technology Studies. Through referring to this integrated model and therefore step by step students learn to analyze how the STEM task at hand is 'gendered' with regard to its contexts, concepts, theories, research questions, prospected results, applications and uses. In this way, students of STEM fields learn how to develop feminist analyses in relation to a given task in STEM. Over time, they re-shape and transform an initially assigned task that was framed in STEM to a project in Feminist Science and Technology Studies. Some study projects from computer science, medical technology, landscape architecture and mechanical engineering will illustrate the outcomes of this teaching-research approach in Feminist Science and Technology Studies.

Re-viewing Aliens: Watching The X-Files during the Global War on Terror

Author: Katherine Chandler (Georgetown University)  email

Short Abstract

This experimental papers considers race, gender and "alien" others in the X-Files to reflect on national security in the United States during the Global War on Terror and experiences researching this issues, given the X-Files provocation "The Truth is Out There."

Long Abstract

The X-Files was the only television show I ever watched religiously. Early in the series, Scully and Mulder go to Idaho to investigate the disappearance of an Air Force test pilot. When the two agents attempt to access the restricted area around the nearby base, they see unidentified flying objects, which Mulder assumes are alien technologies. Like Scully and Mulder, I spent the past seven years investigating unmanned technologies built by the military. One of my first research experiences was walking the perimeter of Creech Air Force Base and I too have a photograph of the moment when an MQ-1 Predator flew overhead. The project however has made Mulder's belief in aliens seem a convenient alternative narrative for experiments ongoing in the Cold War and after to develop drones, while the Global War on Terror eclipses the military-alien-industrial conspiracy the two agents uncover. This paper examines choreographies (Thompson, 2006) between humans and nonhumans orchestrated in key episodes of The X-Files mythology and reads them in tandem with recent revelations about the American military and intelligence community including extrajudicial killings, rendition flights, torture and surveillance. I apply methods advocated by feminist STS scholars (Orr, 2006), which link personal narrative to accounts that emphasize the intersections between gender, race and nonhuman that tie to and produce "aliens" (Haraway, 1992). My fascination with The X-Files and problems I now find in the program offer a way to interrogate science and technology's "others" and the means by which we create and critique these formations.

New Heights: Shoes as Technology of the Self

Author: Chris Hesselbein (Cornell University)  email

Short Abstract

Footwear is an important technology with which gendered, ethnic, and class identities are created, maintained, and destabilized in Western society via the interaction of bodies and artifacts at the intersection of fashion, consumption, and the commercial classification and standardization of sizing

Long Abstract

Clothing is usually only considered a technology in its hi-tech guise as 'wearable technology'. However, studying the daily practice of dressing contributes much to understanding the role of technology in the performance of everyday life and the enactment of power and politics through material means.

Footwear, especially in its high-heeled form, is an object with which distinctions between gendered, ethnic, and class identities are created and (de)stabilized. Footwear is able to perform this role through its situated and everyday use as a symbol of femininity and professional success in Western societies. Its paradoxical character as a ubiquitous and highly visible artifact that nonetheless has become taken-for-granted and nearly invisible makes footwear an important topic for studying how (unequal) worlds emerge from the close interaction of bodies and artifacts at the intersection of Western fashion, cultural consumption, and the commercial classification and standardization of sizing.

The importance of washing machines, reproductive technologies, onions, and the Internet in the materialization of social order has been well established in feminist technoscience. Studies on the gendered politics of technological design and usage of everyday consumer goods such as clothing have been surprisingly scarce despite the clear impact of such artifacts on personal affect and comportment, not to mention the possibilities and constraints that such sartorial choices have for the perpetuation and subversion of gender stereotypes. The politics of technology can be found (and hidden) as much in the seemingly superficial practice of wearing shoes as they can in hi-tech artifacts.

Seeing Inside: A Critical Study of Fetal Ultrasound in Medicine and Law

Author: Jennifer Denbow (California Polytechnic State University)  email

Short Abstract

This paper examines medical research on fetal ultrasound and how legal actors in the US employ that research. I argue that legal actors often rely on this research to increase surveillance of pregnant women. The paper highlights the political stakes and uneven effects of a particular technology.

Long Abstract

Fetal ultrasound has become increasingly important for both its diagnostic use and for its potential to promote bonding between a pregnant woman and her fetus. Both medical research and regulatory bodies in the United States recognize these uses of ultrasound in pregnancy. While numerous feminist STS scholars have examined the importance of fetal sonograms for cultural and political understandings of pregnancy, no one has conducted an in-depth examination of how medical researchers understand and frame the use of ultrasound in pregnancy. Furthermore, legal scholars have not examined how regulatory guidelines and laws regarding fetal ultrasound are related to this medical research.

This paper fills these gaps by providing a critical analysis of medical research on fetal ultrasound. Importantly, the project will investigate how legal bodies in the US make use of this medical research. The paper is based on a discourse analysis of medical research, laws, and legislative records. I argue that some medical research on fetal ultrasound takes for granted that fetuses are individual patients and that ultrasound can and should be used to alter women's attitudes and behaviors toward fetuses. Furthermore, I find that regulatory recommendations regarding the use of ultrasound in pregnancy often uncritically accept medical understandings of fetal sonograms, especially regarding their role in promoting bonding between pregnant women and fetuses. By critically examining materials that have not yet been studied, this paper sheds light on the issue of how medical researchers think of fetal sonograms and how that understanding is taken up in law.

The Romanian Assisted Reproduction Industry: Failing Attempts at Professionalisation

Author: Alexandra Gruian (University of Leeds)  email

Short Abstract

The Romanian assisted reproduction industry fails to gain momentum due to various actors who, consciously or not, impede on its professionalisation. I will explore the medical and administrative technicalities and the political interests that prevent the standardisation of fertility treatments.

Long Abstract

The first IVF baby was born in Romania in 1996, however the country still lacks a legislation specifically addressing assisted reproduction (AR) and has one of the lowest rates of IVF cycles in the European Union. Based on a 8-month ethnography that included observation in fertility clinics, documentary analysis and interviews with medical professionals, legislators, IVF patients and other relevant parties, I will argue that actors from different social worlds have impeded, albeit not in a necessarily conscious manner, the professionalisation of the Romanian AR industry. I will focus on the role of state structures, political arrangements, religious, medical and patient organisations, foreign fertility clinics and the media in order to highlight the power dynamics at play. My arguments will support the idea that currently the AR industry is organised in individual fertility centers each with its own local practices, loosely regulated and supervised by central state bodies that are underfunded and understaffed. Divergent interests, either strategically enacted or inconsistently pursued, have sometimes had negative collateral effects. This delay in professionalisation as well as its consequences will be presented taking into account that not all actors have had as much to win or lose in the process, and that vulnerabilities have also stretched gendered, raced and classed lines. This presentation will offer an analysis of how reproductive technologies seem to gain a life of their own in the absence of standardisation and regulation, reflecting technical and political struggles.

Which Risks, for Whom? Electronic fetal monitoring in American childbirth

Author: Kellie Owens (Northwestern University)  email

Short Abstract

Why are electronic fetal monitors common in childbirth despite weak evidence? Interpreting the monitors is not simply a medical decision, but a judgment about which bodies should be susceptible to risks. I highlight the consequences of how providers weigh risks for babies against risks for mothers.

Long Abstract

Electronic fetal monitors are the most commonly used obstetrical intervention in American childbirth, utilized in at least eighty-five percent of all deliveries. The monitors, which provide continuous data on the fetal heart rate and maternal contractions during labor, are so commonplace that they require no consent process from women, even though other monitoring options may be available. Interpreting the fetal heart rate tracings is such an important part of an obstetrician's workflow that one provider snidely remarked, "My whole job is just to look at tracings and write about them." Despite the ubiquity of these monitors on labor floors across the United States, many birth providers feel considerable unease about their use. When compared with less invasive and less frequent monitoring, electronic fetal monitors have not been shown to improve perinatal health outcomes, but are linked to an increase in cesarean sections, a form of delivery that is more dangerous for women than vaginal delivery. As one provider noted, "The literature is very clear that doing electronic fetal monitoring is not in anybody's best interest, but it's done on everybody." Based on interviews with ninety-four birth providers across the United States, this paper explores why electronic monitors are so common despite weak clinical evidence, and highlights the uneven consequences of this practice as providers weigh the risks for babies against the risks for mothers. Interpreting fetal heart rate tracings is not simply a medical decision, but a normative judgment about which bodies should be susceptible to which types of risks.

Controlled Acts: Caring for the Feeding Tube

Author: Drew Danielle Belsky (York University)  email

Short Abstract

Regulatory regimes in Canada fail to encompass the economic, social, and affective dimensions of the unglamourous yet vital work of feeding tubes in home care. Starting from mundane materialities, I consider strategies for collective care at the intersection of different spheres of feminized labour.

Long Abstract

Health care regulations in Ontario (Canada) delimit particular acts ("controlled acts") to regulated health professions such as nursing. Although administering feeding via G-tube is not a controlled act, in practice it is usually treated as such. This interpretive flexibility depends on the discursive misconstrual of both the feeding tube as object and tube feeding as act. In the context of home care, this routine technology becomes a site of contested agencies at the intersection of three different spheres of feminized labour - unpaid family caregivers, paid support workers, and professional nurses - as well as the bodies that are fed through the tube. Regulatory regimes fail to encompass the economic, social, and affective dimensions of the unglamourous yet vital work of feeding tubes. Articulations of accountability, expertise, and agency that shape both how and how much particular bodies can or should care for other bodies tend to omit the messy yet mundane materialities of plastic tubes and caps, sticky feed, and drip rates. Starting with these materialities, I consider "the conditions of possibility of care" (Martin et al., 2015, p. 10) and seek to "explore how these arrangements of care and power might be otherwise" (Martin et al., 2015, p. 4). What possibilities for acting might exist when we attend to the complex collective formations created in the spaces and activities of home care? What strategies for collective care might rework the organization of power and privilege that pits nurses, personal support workers, patients, and family caregivers against one another?

Making bodies and identities in everyday clinical work: caring practices as apparatuses of bodily production

Author: Karolina Kazimierczak (University of Aberdeen)  email

Short Abstract

Engaging with the work of Donna Haraway and Karen Barad, this paper explores the everyday caring practices in the clinic, the ways in which they help materialize specific objects/bodies and their attributes/identities, and the consequences of these materializations for drawing (bodily) boundaries.

Long Abstract

This paper is concerned with the everyday caring practices in the clinic, the ways in which they help enact and materialize specific objects/bodies and their attributes/identities, and with the consequences of these materializations for the drawing of (bodily) boundaries.

Drawing on ethnographic data, the paper focuses on a single instance of clinical encounter in the prostate cancer clinic - the discussion of management options for localized prostate cancer - in order to trace the multiple entanglements of clinical practices and apparatuses, which contribute to the differential becoming of cancer and cancer care, and of cancer patients and specialists.

What constitutes prostate cancer? How is it determined and classified? How are these classifications implicated in shaping and reshaping of clinical relations: between patients and professionals, between diseases and the bodies they affect, and between diseases and the means for their management? What specific practices and apparatuses are involved in the materialisation of the differences and boundaries within these relations? And what are the world-making consequences of these inclusions/exclusions? What "marks are left on bodies" (Barad 2003: 828) as their result?

While grappling with these questions, the paper engages with the work of Donna Haraway and Karen Barad, and particularly with their concept of the apparatus of bodily production as a material-discursive practice, which differentially enacts and materializes specific subjects, objects, meanings and boundaries. It argues that this concept is particularly productive for our understanding of everyday (clinical) practices as materially consequential: making "particular material articulations of the world … meaningful" (Barad 2007: 333).

Milieu therapy, Identity Formation and Rehabilitation Following Traumatic Brain Injury

Author: Nuri Erkut Kucukboyaci (NYU Langone Medical Center)  email

Short Abstract

This paper explores how new identities are formed during intensive group rehabilitation, where patients with TBI acquire critical self-awareness skills. It argues that the objects used in therapy both nourish and help control the “new selves” that are defined collaboratively within Western norms.

Long Abstract

How does a person forge a new identity after experiencing traumatic brain injury (TBI)? At a New York City hospital, some individuals with TBI take part in Milieu Therapy, an intensive group treatment program that focuses on improving attention, memory and social communication by teaching self-awareness and compensatory skills. During this process, individuals define and create new selves within the context of their cognitive and physical limitations. Such a transitionary, self-reflective, school-like therapeutic milieu is replete with objects that help define, visualize and communicate the limitations, challenges and the goals of the new disabled self. In this paper, I use my clinical experiences as a trainee to elucidate these cognitive and behavioral therapeutic processes that rely on objects to trigger repeated self-examination (e.g., self-referential posters, behavioral contracts, notebooks, video-recordings). I demonstrate how individuals engage with the objects carefully infused in their milieu to define and forge new selves. I discuss how these educational tools are used to constantly remind cognitive and psychosocial deficits while also triggering newly-acquired behavioral responses. I also focus on how different parties (e.g., trainers, trainees, significant others) rely on these objects to instill new power hierarchies that both nourish and, if needed, control the new "self" that is being formed in accordance with Western norms during these holistic therapies. This notion of forging and modifying self-concept in holistic therapies is rarely subjected to critical gaze of STS. Through this analysis, I attempt to make this milieu more accessible and attractive for future STS research.

Moving past reductionism through biological research on mental illness

Author: Anna Starshinina (University of California - San Diego)  email

Short Abstract

This paper examines how neuroscientific, genetic, and molecular biological research on mental illness challenges the idea that mental illness is solely a biological problem. I propose that the findings of basic science research can be mobilized to make a case for social interventions.

Long Abstract

Even though the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) increasingly funds basic science research, insights from neuroscience, genetic research, and molecular biology have not transformed clinical diagnosis and treatment of mental illness. Conditions like schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or depression continue to elude mechanistic explanations. In this paper, I examine scientific research practices at neuroimaging, genetic, and animal studies laboratories to demonstrate that these complex conditions cannot be understood in solely biological terms. My observations show that even as scientists attempt to identify the biological processes underlying mental illness inside the human body, they always take into account a person's social and environmental contexts. For example, the findings of epigenetics demonstrate that genes are responsive to environmental conditions. As a result, scientists readily acknowledge the importance of social relationships, environmental exposures, and the experience of stress in the emergence of mental illness. As part of a growing body of literature that engages with the biosciences (Littlefield and Johnson 2012, Lock 2013, Wilson 2015), this paper considers how scientific research might help to move past biological reductionism. I propose that given findings from biological research, NIMH and other government agencies should recognize the importance of supporting social interventions, psychotherapy, community treatment, housing, and vocational and other services that are desperately needed by people who are suffering from severe mental illnesses. If so, then basic science research might finally transform clinical practice in psychiatry and psychology.

Counting Mosquitoes: Reports, Maps, Surveys, and Engineering Projects during the Allies' Local, Multi-Species Malaria Control Practices in WWII

Author: Monica Hoffman (University of California San Diego)  email

Short Abstract

This paper uses reports, maps, and surveys to engage the quotidian work of counting and controlling mosquitoes; and the work of translating and representing that work into useful information in the form of reports that circulated up and down Allied command hierarchies.

Long Abstract

The Malaria and Epidemic Control Organization (MECO) was created to address the significant impact of malaria on Allied Forces in the Pacific Theater in WWII. I analyze MECO's memos, records, surveys, and reports as technical objects that created particular "geographies of responsibility" (Akrich 1992) for malaria control. These technologies and practices articulated malaria as a local, multi-species disease that required local, multi-species interventions.

Following Joyce, I believe that files are "concerned with excluding as much as including things, the 'engineering out' as well as the 'engineering in' of knowledge production and capacities for action" (Joyce 2010) The forms and reports of the malaria control units codified ways of articulating malaria, as well as the geographies of responsibility for its control. The forms, surveys, maps, and reports of the Malaria Control Units were a mode for stabilizing knowledge about malaria and malaria control.

My analysis focuses on two aspects within the technologies and practices of malaria control: 1. the "common, day-to-day" work of counting and controlling mosquitoes and parasites (Mol 2003); and 2. the work of translating and representing that work into useful information in the form of reports that could circulate up and down command hierarchies. Both of these aspects were coordinated by a senior malariologist. I argue that malaria was enacted and articulated through both the practices and the reporting of those practices, and that malaria was successfully controlled because the malariologist coordinated and translated both.

Multi-history for computation

Authors: Narrira Lemos de Souza (Federal University of Rio de Janeiro)  email
Nayara Cristina Carneiro de Araujo  email

Short Abstract

This paper aims to discuss the history of computer science focused on the exclusion of women on this subject and it also looks for new ways of making this scientific field.

Long Abstract

This paper is about the history of women on Computer Science. Despite the Computer Science's institutionalisation had happened in the end of 60s, in the United States, this field of research and applications involved lots of scientists, which were known as computers. These women's work consisted on activities as database programming and, many times, were referenced as a sub-work. They were placed as supporting and it didn't happen only on Computer Science, but it is part of scientific subjects in general, and it is a problem of what feminists are struggling to re-frame: the problem of a single history, based on male and capitalists principles. On the trails of colonialism, we see that the Brazilian history is not different, neither we don't find female reference on Computer Science, as well on other subjects such as mathematics or technology. To escape from this restrict unity, I'll talk, on this paper, about technology as an open concept of "ways of (...)" in which there is multiple possibilities to talk about multiple histories and multiple characters. On this way, my intention is to look for empty places on which the origin concepts on the Computer Science can be re-setup starting with feminists and situated problems. Therefore, this paper aims to work on a preliminary project to re-think the history about how women were portrayed and excluded of the computation history, especially the history of computation in Brazil.

Of Baboons, Cadavers, and Dummies: Car Crash Testing in the 1970s

Author: Renee Blackburn (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)  email

Short Abstract

In this paper, I examine animals, human cadavers, and anthropomorphic dummies as non-standard representations of human body types that shifted the interior of the automobile from a safe space for adult male occupants to a safe space for occupants of various genders, ages, and body types.

Long Abstract

In in the mid-twentieth century, standardization of crash test devices began with dummies originally created for U.S. Air Force pilots. Auto companies and research labs tested cars for crashworthiness and safety using these male test dummies, which represented a larger, heavier body type. In turn, safety devices and auto interiors often injured this non-standardized body in the automobile at a more frequent rate during a crash.

In this paper, I examine the use of animals, human cadavers, and anthropomorphic dummies as crash test devices and their use as representatives of various ages and genders in order to test new safety technologies in the 1970s. Anthropomorphic dummies were standardized to generic body types, but cadaver and animal test subjects created larger testing variety. By varying types of test devices, researchers and engineers were able to create safety devices that protected more vehicle occupants, but at cost to comfort and freedom of movement. In turn, I also ask, were engineers designing cars for safety based on assumptions about interior space use by gender? And finally, how can we analyze the interior of the car as a standardized space for the non-standard body?

Through analysis of these questions and other questions, I will show how the use of animal, cadaver, and anthropomorphic dummy test devices as representations of non-standard human bodies in crash tests helped create new safety technologies that moved the interior of the car from a safe space for males to a safe space for all occupants.

Worlding the Globe: Feminist STS and the International Geophysical Year

Author: Jessica Lehman (University of Minnesota)  email

Short Abstract

How does global science make worlds? I advocate for feminist STS attention to this question by analyzing an early attempt at global oceanography. I interrogate large-scale relations of geophysical observations for keys to the worlds that are made by ‘big science,’ especially synoptic geoscience.

Long Abstract

Feminist STS has taught us to interrogate universal knowledge claims, but these strategies may need to be adapted to understand the worlds that are made in the name of global knowledge. By what processes does the 'view from everywhere' transform (into) the 'view from nowhere'? How can feminist STS help us to understand the worlding practices of global synoptic science, which requires a set of observations coordinated across time and space in order to make a summary of the system in question? These questions are increasingly important as the observation-based, synoptically dreaming geosciences rise to prominence in an age of planetary-scale environmental change. In this paper, I attempt to advance feminist STS efforts to understand 'big science' by attending to the ambitions and worlding practices of global knowledge production, in particular in synoptic Earth systems sciences. As an example, I analyze early attempts to create a synoptic understanding of the world ocean, during the International Geophysical Year (1957-1958). I show how it was not only expert European and North American male scientists on seafaring expeditions that constructed global oceanography, but also local technicians and fisheries managers operating tide gauges and long-wave recorders in the wake of the nuclear Pacific. By understanding not simply how knowledge and concepts travel but also how long relational chains of big science are constructed, we are better positioned to understand the worlds made by synoptic science.

Fugitive worlds: psychology's attempts to capture daydreams

Author: Felicity Callard (Durham University )  email

Short Abstract

The paper considers various ways in which psychology has experimentally investigated daydreaming, fantasy and mind wandering so as to explore the psycho-socio-technological circuits produced through bringing together experimenter, experimental subject, and the flotsam of quotidian life.

Long Abstract

This paper uses the history of introspective methods in psychology to explore the intimate worlds produced through bringing together experimenter, research subject, and technologies used to elicit 'inner experience'. Introspective methods are most commonly located at the origin of scientific psychology, imagined as largely banished in the heyday of behaviourism, and positioned, now, as experiencing a slow return to favour as scientific paradigms grapple with the problem of consciousness. Such a history is fallaciously simplistic, and covers from view the much more complex and strange trajectory that introspective methods have taken through psychology and proximal fields since the late nineteenth century. This talk revisits various twentieth-century psychological paradigms that were used experimentally to investigate daydreaming, fantasy, and mind wandering so as to examine how the fugitive contents of quotidian internal worlds were variously drawn into explanatory scientific frameworks that were attempting to diagnose the psychological characteristics of social life. Alongside feminist scholars of science such as Karen Barad, Elizabeth Wilson, and Jill Morawski - who have variously put pressure on how we might think relations between internal and external worlds, and between the experimenter and the experimental subject - I analyse the psycho-socio-technological circuits that are produced through psychology's attempts to capture daydreams. Attending to those circuits might, I suggest, open new avenues for the many cognitive neuroscientists interested, currently, in experimentally investigating mind wandering.

Inner Worlds and Material Capture

Authors: James Wilkes (Durham University)  email
Holly Pester (University of Essex)  email

Short Abstract

In response to our participation in the experimental psychological method, Descriptive Experience Sampling, this paper figures the DES beeping device as a technology of experience capture. We will argue the device composes experience, and enact the drama of translating the material into data.

Long Abstract

In this performance paper we address our experience as participants and collaborators in Descriptive Experience Sampling (DES), an experimental psychological method which prompts the participant (in this case: us) to record the inner experiences of everyday life, randomly selected by a beeper device worn on the body. These experiences are then recounted in interviews in an attempt to reach what Russ Hurlburt, the originator of the method, describes as 'high fidelity' descriptions of inner experience.

From our perspective as poets and feminist scholars of science and technology, we argue that this method throws into question what it means to be 'subjects' in an experiment, using feminist theory (Judith Butler, Elizabeth Grosz) to frame the moment of the beep as a moment of subjectification.

Our presentation will re-enact the stresses and attentional shifts that DES induced in us. We will use these interventions to consider the way DES, as an experimental apparatus, dramatizes moments of self-recognition, thus constructing identities through both linguistic and embodied presence.

We will use the material produced by this scientific-performative practice (video documentation and audio recordings) to argue what is at stake in this shared experimental process: language as a hailing system in the navigation of everyday life; the 'subject' as a term wavering between the social and the experimental; inner experience as a necessarily performed phenomenon; and the making common of supposedly private qualia.

Living a collaborative life

Author: Des Fitzgerald (Cardiff University)  email

Short Abstract

This paper shifts studies of collaboration from a bureaucratic focus on practices, and, drawing on feminist theory, re-thinks collaboration as a kind of inter-species relation; living a collaborative life, I argue, thus means learning to bear the conjoined intimacy and negativity of living-together.

Long Abstract

There has been much attention to the politics and pragmatics of interdisciplinary collaboration lately, and especially to the shifting topoi of collaboration between social scientists and life scientists- with some even proposing a 'collaborative turn' in STS, medical anthropology and sociology, and allied practices. This development (desired or otherwise) has a complex and varied genealogy: it is associated with a postgenomic turn to social and environmental life within some parts of the biological sciences; but also with a bureaucratic shift away from disciplines in the structures of university and research management.

This development has produced a range of empirical accounts of collaboration (Viseu, 2015; Balmer et al, 2015; Callard and Fitzgerald, 2015). In this paper, I build on these stories. But I also move beyond a tendency, in this genre, towards lamentation, and a general interest in tactics for improved relation. Drawing on contemporary feminist theory (Donna Haraway, Elizabeth Wilson, and Sara Ahmed), I theorize collaboration as neither an apparatus nor a practice, but as a form of life, and as an inter-species relation. I argue that that this displaces the image of collaboration as a machine in need of fixing, and fixes attention, instead, on the conjoined intimacy and negativity of living-together. Living a collaborative life, I argue, is not about making better practices, but of taking seriously the ethics of shared living - of understanding how that living becomes bearable, when it is so endlessly structured by inseparable relations of joy, frustration, envy, excitement, and annoyance.

Phenomenal Séances and Apparent Interdisciplinarities

Author: Yelena Gluzman (University of California, San DIego)  email

Short Abstract

A séance, like theater and lab experiment, is a configuration of materials to encourage particular apparitions to manifest. This paper focuses on two related apparitions—empathy and interdisciplinarity—to inquire about the conditions allowing each to become sensible and thus actionable.

Long Abstract

A séance, like theater and like laboratory experiment, is a configuration of materials, expectancies and attention that encourages particular apparitions to manifest. This paper takes as its focus two related apparitions—empathy and interdisciplinarity—to inquire about the conditions allowing each to become sensible and thus actionable.

Empathy and interdisciplinarity are often articulated as imperatives in cognitive science, theater studies and STS. While there is disagreement about how empathic and interdisciplinary bridges should be built, the mandate of bridge-building is largely unproblematic. This paper considers how specific configurations of interdisciplinarity are enfolded with empathy to theorize what sorts of actions such configurations allow.

To do this, I focus on two sites. One is a cognitive neuroscience lab that has been the object of my research over the past year; here, I pursued a STS "lab studies"-type project not only as a participant observer, but also as a theater-maker and interlocutor. Here, by taking up the model of experimentality so central to lab practice, I attempted to intervene in core assumptions around sociality and empathy by offering alternative experimental events to consider collectively. The second site of my focus will be the conference panel at which this talk will be given. By using the resources of the conference panel—those assembled, the flow of attention, and the discursive expectations of the event—the presentation will itself function as a séance of sorts, calling forth and investigating the particular empathic and interdisciplinary apparitions that haunt us, and that we seek to know.

Response-able Subjects: Shaping experiment from the inside out

Authors: Sarah Klein (University of California, San Diego)  email
Tyler Marghetis (Indiana University)  email

Short Abstract

This paper describes an experiment in “response-able” experimental design: a collaboration between a cognitive scientist and an ethnographer of cognitive science, which inverted the agential structure of the cognitive psychology experiment, rendering it responsive to the impressions of its subjects.

Long Abstract

Alongside a commitment to describing the entanglements by which the world is made, feminist STS scholars have called for "response-ability" in science, that is, toward materializing research entanglements that cultivate mutual responsivity between scientists and their subjects (Haraway 2008, Barad 2007). This paper describes a collaborative experiment in response-able experimental design.

EXPF: Shaping Experiment was a collaboration between a cognitive scientist and an ethnographer of cognitive science. This experiment-performance inverted the agential structure of the cognitive psychology experiment, rendering it responsive to the impressions of its subjects rather than testing a hypothesis of the researchers. After having subjects complete what appeared to be a standard, computer-based cognitive psychology task, we elicited impressions about the experiment's purpose and suggestions for improvement. Our performance score required that we respond to subjects' feedback by revising the experiment before the next subject arrived, whose impressions revised the next version of the experiment, and so on in an iterated chain of performance and revision. In becoming responsive, experiment and experimenters became instruments to capture the invisible routines and formalized power relations that make the experiment possible at the scale of laboratory interaction. This paper will report on the process and results of our collaboration, and reflect on the implications of response-ability for the cognitive sciences. In taking up the challenge of response-ability, this work also contributes to ongoing conversations in STS about the performativity of method, historical and ethnographic studies of experiment, and situated/embodied scientific practice.

Hybrid bodies and the materiality of everyday life

Author: Nelly Oudshoorn (University of Twente)  email

Short Abstract

Implanted technologies such as pacemakers transform everyday life. I argue that disentanglement work, i.e. anticipation to prevent specific entanglements between bodies and objects, is key to understanding how hybrid bodies can survive and intimacy is enacted in today’s technological landscapes.

Long Abstract

Technologies inside bodies introduce novel challenges for living in a technological culture. For pacemaker and ICD patients, passing security controls at airports and museums, visits to the doctor or the dentist, and intimate contacts with their loved ones turn into events where the proper working of their device may be at risk. Although at first glance these technologies don't seem to require any actions of its users, they demand that patients adapt their daily life to protect their hybrid bodies from negative interferences with their physical environment. Anticipation of potentially harmful events and places thus becomes an important part of the choreography of everyday life. Technologies inside bodies not only provide a challenge for patients living with these devices but also for theorizing the relationships between bodies, technologies and intimacy. Whereas most studies in STS address the co-adaptation and entanglement of bodies and (external) technologies, technologies inside bodies ask us to do the opposite. How to understand body-technology relations in which the entanglement of hybrid bodies and objects external to the body has to be avoided rather than achieved?

Based on an empirical study of the daily life practices of patients living with pacemakers and ICDs in the Netherlands and the US, I will argue that disentanglement work, i.e. anticipation to prevent specific entanglements between bodies and objects, is key to understanding how hybrid bodies can survive and what intimacies and responsibilities are enacted in today's densely populated technological landscapes.

Making worlds in animal slaughter

Author: Kara Wentworth (University of California San Diego)  email

Short Abstract

Through a combination of video and live performance, this presentation explores how lives and worlds are made out of deaths in animal slaughter.

Long Abstract

This work is part of a larger project exploring how meaning is made in everyday practice on a slaughterhouse kill floor. By following animals, butchers, inspectors, organs, microbes, researchers, and knives, I make sense of how repeated material interactions between more-than-human beings constitute worlds.

Through writing and video, I trace stories of world-making in practice. Through an ethnographic engagement of kill floors, meat conferences, agricultural fraternities, general stores, ranchers, and spaces in between, I try to understand how shared meanings and socio-political worlds are made. I argue that seemingly intractable differences across cultural communities are located in the same core urges: hopes and fears for the future congeal in the present as political commitments.

Through this work, I offer a novel analysis of the nature of difference, the nature of knowledge, and the nature of socio-political worlds. I argue that difference, knowledge, and the worlds we live in are all made through daily practice, and through interactions between humans, non-humans and things. Meaning is made through bodies, movement, action, interaction, cuts, marks, repetition, and agreement.

Queer technologies and rural world-making

Author: Jean Hardy (University of Michigan)  email

Short Abstract

Using ethnographic methods, I show how discourses of technological world-making deployed by evaluators and creators of mobile apps targeted at queer men distort their effect on queer lives. I argue that a rural LGBTQ world is enacted dynamically rather than dictated by designers.

Long Abstract

This paper explores how embodied knowledge, mobile applications for queer men, and spatiality are enacted in the world-making process of rural LGBTQ people. Drawing from ethnographic research in a rural region of the American Midwest, I show how queer sexuality is negotiated through a range of artifacts including software, bars, periodicals, festivals, and stories of belonging. I focus on contextualizing the use of location-based smartphone applications and their role in LGBT world-formation since their popularization in 2009.

Discourses used by mobile apps creators, queer theorists, researchers of people-nearby applications, and the popular press frequently assume an urban user and traffic in techno-determinist discourses regarding both how these apps are used and their cultural effects. Designers assume that these technologies will be used only in certain ways and critics believe that their use will lead to "the death of the gay bar." These discourses over-emphasize the role of queer technologies in modern gay life, offer a limited understanding of their place in LGBTQ culture, and mischaracterize how they are used by a wide variety of queer subjects.

In contrast, I argue that rural LGBTQ identity is enacted dynamically and that rural users employ these technologies in novel and unexpected ways. I draw on STS literatures on the co-construction of the user and synthesize Berlant & Warner's framework of "world-making" from queer theory and Donna Haraway's theory of "worlding" from feminist technoscience. In doing so, I offer a non-determinist view of these applications that centers processes of context-bound user interactions.

Which Sustainability? On Practicing the Future

Author: Emily Yates-Doerr (University of Amsterdam)  email

Short Abstract

I unpack challenges surrounding the translation of sustainability across languages and practices. I offer the feminist, decolonial platform of multi-object ethnography as an experimental technique for coordinating across similarity and difference.

Long Abstract

The United Nations is debating how to translate "sustainability" - a key term of the current Sustainable Development Goals - into Spanish. This paper, which analyzes the execution of a UN-funded maternal supplementation intervention in a Mam-speaking community in Guatemala, takes a praxiographic approach to sustainability. In doing so, I show that while sustainability has become important for political and technoscientific agendas alike, it takes more forms than captured by English or Spanish definitions. For some researchers involved in the intervention, sustainability is an ethical prerequisite to grant approval in which they must demonstrate that the intervention can be maintained once they leave; for others it is a means of avoiding accountability by shifting targets into the future. For some, sustainability encourages a focus on long-term, structural conditions of inequality; others suggest it is a ruse, deflecting attention (and funds) away from existing inequalities. Meanwhile, those targeted by the intervention are engaged in many different - and sometimes opposing - aspirations for a "sustainable" future. While multi-sited ethnography has become common practice for those charting global transition, this paper offers the feminist, decolonial framework of multi-object ethnography as an "other means" for tracking the making of objects in practice. This shifts academic inquiry away from ontological questions to ethnographic questions: rather than seek to answer the question, "what is sustainability?" in definitive terms, it pushes the question, "what can sustainability be made to be?" What emerges is an experimental problem to world-making: what tools can we draw on for coordination across similarity and difference?

This track is closed to new paper proposals.